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Can you nap in your car?

Taking a nap in your car can be a convenient way to get some rest, especially if you have a long drive ahead of you. However, there are some important factors to consider before catching some z’s in your vehicle.

Is it legal to nap in your car?

The legality of napping in your car depends on where you are parked. In most areas, it is legal to take a nap in a parked car as long as you are not:

  • Parked in a no-stopping or no-parking zone
  • Parked in a spot with a time limit (like a 2-hour parking space)
  • Parked in a private lot where overnight parking is prohibited
  • Parked in a manner that obstructs traffic or creates a hazard

If you are parked legally in a public area or private lot where overnight parking is allowed, a nap in your car should be fine. However, make sure to check local ordinances wherever you are to be certain. And be aware that even if napping itself is legal, a police officer may stop to investigate if they notice someone sleeping in a car.

Is it safe to nap in your car?

Safety is another key consideration when napping in your vehicle. Here are some factors to think about:

  • Location – Park in a well-lit area where you feel comfortable. Avoid secluded spots.
  • Lock your doors – Make sure your car is secure.
  • Recline your seat – Partially reclining your seat can make napping more comfortable.
  • Use a sunshade – If napping during the day, put up shades to block light.
  • Ventilation – Crack windows for airflow, but ensure your safety first.
  • Extreme temperatures – Avoid napping in very hot or very cold conditions.

Sleeping in a locked, legally parked car in a public space generally provides reasonable safety. But always trust your instincts – if a location doesn’t feel safe, find a different spot to nap.

Tips for napping in your car

If you decide to take a snooze in your automobile, here are some tips for making it as comfortable and restful as possible:

  • Recline the seat – But don’t make it totally flat to avoid cramped legs.
  • Use a pillow – A pillow against the window can provide padding.
  • Grab a blanket – Bring one from home or store in the car.
  • Cover the windows – Use shades, towels, or reflector shields for privacy.
  • Wear comfortable clothes – Items like sweatpants and hoodies can make napping cozier.
  • Consider earplugs – Block out ambient noise from traffic, people, etc.
  • Pick your time wisely – Opt for naps when well-rested to avoid deep sleep.
  • Set an alarm – Use your phone or watch to avoid oversleeping.
  • Try a nap pad – Special cushions or mattresses can enhance comfort.

Finding the right sleeping position, covering up, and setting an alarm can all help you get quality rest even in the cramped quarters of a car.

Ideal nap lengths

How long should you nap for in a vehicle? Sleep experts suggest:

Nap Length Benefits
10-20 minutes Increased alertness and performance
30 minutes Enhanced memory and learning
60-90 minutes Improved creativity and decision-making

Naps longer than 90 minutes can leave you feeling groggy afterward. For the best results, tailor nap times to fit your schedule and needs.

Choosing a good nap spot

Ideally, you want to nap in a place that’s both safe and legal. Here are some potential spots to consider:

  • Parking garages – Many business garages allow public parking.
  • Rest areas – Designated rest stops provide security and amenities.
  • Fitness center lots – If you have a membership, napping may be allowed.
  • Church parking lots – Many permit non-attendee parking during weekdays.
  • Police station lots – Offer well-lit, secure locations if napping is permitted.
  • Hospital garages – Often patrolled and open 24/7.

Scope out possible parking spots near your destinations so you’ll know where to stop for a quick nap as needed.

Sleeping positions for car napping

Since your car likely doesn’t have a bed, finding a suitable sleeping position can be challenging. Here are some to try:

  • Reclined driver/passenger seat – Partially recline the seat and use a pillow against the window as support.
  • Backseat – Stretch out as much as possible and place padding under your neck.
  • Fetal position – Curl up tightly in the backseat in a side-lying position.
  • Elevated legs and feet – Prop your legs up on the seat or dashboard to avoid discomfort.
  • Driver seat with backseat support – Recline the driver seat a bit and place pillows behind you in the backseat.

Shift positions or add pillows anywhere pressure points arise. Getting as comfortable as possible will make your nap more restful.

Is it better to nap in the front or back seat?

For car napping, both the front and back seats have pros and cons:

Front seat

  • Pros: Easier to get in and out of; convenient access to controls; stereo and temperature within reach
  • Cons: Less ability to fully recline; cramped without backseat support; less privacy


  • Pros: More room to sprawl out and get comfy; benches may fully recline; increased privacy
  • Cons: More difficult entering and exiting; no access to stereo or climate controls

Try both options and see which allows you to nap most soundly based on your vehicle’s layout and your own preferences.

Dealing with discomfort while napping in a car

Unfortunately, napping in a car has its uncomfortable aspects. Here are some common issues and how to handle them:

Problem: Uncomfortable temperature

Solution: Run the A/C or heat as needed for a few minutes before your nap to adjust the temperature

Problem: Neck, back or joint pain

Solution: Use pillows or cushions for extra support and try different reclined seat angles

Problem: Noisy environment

Solution: Use earplugs, play ambient music, or move farther away from traffic and other noise

Problem: Bright, glaring light

Solution: Completely cover the windows with shades, towels, cardboard, or reflector shields

Problem: Safety concerns

Solution: Only nap in public, well-lit spaces where you feel completely secure

Taking a few simple steps to maximize your comfort and safety can help any nap in a car feel restful.

Best practices for napping in your car

To recap, here are some top tips for refreshing, rejuvenating naps in your vehicle:

  • Park legally and safely in a well-lit public area
  • Lock your doors and secure your car before napping
  • Recline your seat part-way and use pillows for support
  • Cover the windows and use eye shades if needed
  • Choose nap lengths between 10-90 minutes
  • Set an alarm to avoid oversleeping
  • Adjust the temperature, ventilation, and sound as needed
  • Try different positions to get comfy
  • Stay alert to your surroundings when entering and exiting the vehicle

Following smart practices for security, comfort, and convenience will allow you to get the benefits of napping in your car when needed.

Health benefits of napping

In addition to making you feel less tired, napping offers some great health benefits, including:

  • Increased alertness – Naps can boost attention, awareness, and wakefulness.
  • Reduced stress – Brief naps limit the production of cortisol, a stress hormone.
  • Lowered blood pressure – Research shows midday naps can help decrease blood pressure.
  • Improved motor skills – Short 20-30 minute naps can help coordination and performance.
  • Enhanced mood – Nappers report feeling happier, more optimistic and positive after a nap.
  • Stronger memory – Napping helps the brain consolidate memories and absorb new information.

In short, the right nap at the right time can leave you feeling mentally refreshed and energized.

Potential downsides of napping in a car

Before catching some z’s in your vehicle, be aware of some potential negatives:

  • Safety issues – Napping in an insecure area could make you vulnerable.
  • Discomfort – It’s hard to get truly comfy sleeping upright in a car seat.
  • Joint pain – Odd sleeping positions may exacerbate pressure points.
  • Difficulty waking – You may sleep longer than intended without an alarm.
  • Grogginess – Long naps can trigger sleep inertia upon waking.
  • Poor sleep quality – Significant noise, light, etc. can disrupt deep sleep cycles.
  • Nighttime sleep issues – Daytime naps may make it harder to fall asleep at bedtime.

Pay attention to how you feel after car napping. If you consistently experience negative effects, reconsider the practice.

Who shouldn’t nap in a car?

Napping in a vehicle may be ill-advised for:

  • People with certain health conditions – Sleep apnea, acid reflux, anxiety disorders.
  • Very tall/large individuals – Limited space can increase discomfort.
  • Those taking medications that cause drowsiness – Further impaired alertness.
  • People who become disoriented upon waking – Potentially dangerous while driving.
  • Anyone impaired by drugs, alcohol or sleep deprivation – Worsened functioning.
  • Teen drivers – Higher crash rate coupled with inexperience.
  • People with heightened security concerns – Targeted groups, domestic abuse victims.

Use good judgment and weigh your individual risk factors before napping in a car.


With proper precautions for safety and comfort, napping in your car can provide a convenient way to refresh when drowsy. Scope out good nap locations in advance, recline your seat, block out light and sound, set an alarm, and find the sleeping positions that work best. Keep naps short and sweet. While not as restful as a bed, car napping can rejuvenate you for the road ahead with the right preparations.